Online Staff Report
The unveiling of a mural created by the Boone County Youth Program, “Latinos Stand Up,” will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 26, at 109 Buchanan St., Belvidere. The mural will be hung on the exterior of the storefront at that location.
“Latinos Stand Up,” a tutoring and leadership program that began in 2001, is made up of 15 high school students who reside in Boone County and attend Belvidere schools. The mission statement of the group is “We are hope, we are determination, we are strength, we are the future.” The goal of the group is to empower youth to become strong, positive leaders and serve as role models within the community.
The youth developed the concept of the mural and worked with local artist Malu Harrera with its design. “The group wanted to convey the message of cultural pride and dispel the stereotype that young Latinos are involved with gangs, drugs and alcohol,” said Amalia Diaz de Leon, caseworker with the City of Rockford Human Services Department who serves as the group’s adviser.
“Latinos Stand Up” is funded under the Community Services Block Grant, a federally-funded program addressing poverty at the community level, administered in both Boone and Winnebago counties by the City of Rockford Human Services Department, a Community Action Agency. “Latinos Stand Up” also works in collaboration with Alerta, a nonprofit organization that serves Latinos in Boone County with education, information and translation needs. Donations from the community were applied toward the mural’s costs.